Tharp's Thoughts Weekly Newsletter

The Van Tharp Institute   -  www.vantharp.com

August 1, 2007 — Issue #332

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In this Issue...

August Workshops

Peak Performance Workshops in August include a dinner with Dr. Tharp

Article

When Goals Fall Flat, Part Two by Dr. John Eliot

September Workshops Day Trading Workshop and Additional One-Day Swing Trading Workshop
Trading Tip

Market Juncture, by D.R. Barton, Jr.

Melita's Corner

What It All Means, by Melita Hunt

 

August Workshops

$700 Discount Expires Next Week

Peak Performance 101

August, 18-19-20
Saturday-Sunday-Monday

Dinner with Dr. Tharp, Monday, August 20th

Peak Performance 202

August, 22-23-24
Wednesday-Thursday-Friday

Book Now for the $5,000 Combo

 

Feature

When Goals Fall Flat

Part Two

by Dr. John Eliot

In last week's edition we began the discussion on how goal setting and dreams are critical. They spur us out of bed in the morning, resonate with our very being, and inspire us to great achievements. But, if we're not careful, they can also be rigid, artificial standards of a perfection we can never achieve or the source of meaningless tasks siphoning time from our greater abilities. Let your goals guide, inspire, and set you free by avoiding the five significant downsides that cause happiness and success to escape even the most accomplished achievers. 

We already covered three of the five significant downsides when it comes to happiness, exuberance, and a sense of fulfillment: perfectionism, impatience and traps associated with thinking into the future. This week we'll continue with this topic. If you want to read part one first, click here.

OUTCOME ORIENTATION

Let's face it, on any given day, there are an enormous number of distractions to derail our momentum. There's no doubt that sustaining motivation is key to success.

So what is the driving force that keeps us juiced? Intrinsic value, not extrinsic reward. A gold star on your report card, cashing your year-end bonus check, moving into the corner office, a Porsche in the driveway ... they certainly seem incentivizing. But they don't hold up day in and day out; they don't generate sustained motivation. If you place a carrot at the end of your health club's treadmill, it may propel you the first time you go for a jog. Before long, though, you'll say, "Screw this; I'm going to Starbucks."

The lesson is that outcomes — byproducts of our effort — can't hold our attention to nearly the magnitude of internal rewards: the real meaning of what we do, purpose, resonance we feel when executing something the right way or for the right reason.

To that end, it is FAR more effective to focus on the process, not what you might be given if the process goes well.

EXCESS PLANNING

The fifth downside of goal setting is when it creates reduction in work altogether. Simply put: Elaborate goal-setting designs take hours to build, and even longer to implement. How often do you hear of sales forces or executive teams flying off for three- and four-day retreats ... to redefine their goals, to complete "productivity" seminars instead of working on what they should be working on?

Instead of pouring yourself into work that you enjoy, work that will translate into results and make a difference, some people spend all of their time writing down goals, monitoring them, reorganizing and reprioritizing them, entering them into spreadsheets and Palm Pilots. Where will you end up? No need to answer that question.

Goal setting is, at its essence, planning. The more energy you put into planning, the less energy you put into execution. There needs to be a balance of both.

So ask yourself, are you going to transform your work and personal life with perfectionism, impatience, daydreaming, sweating after a dollar, and planning to re-plan?

REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY FOR SUCCESS

In the five areas below the opposite of what we normally think may work in our favor.

Having Confidence

The best in every business are likely to strike most people as irrationally confident, but that's how they got to the top.

Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Michael Dell — they first believed in themselves, utterly, and let their belief be their guide. Sure they experienced numerous obstacles and setbacks and failures. Confidence allowed them to keep getting up and looking for ways to move forward.

Legends Never Say They're Sorry

Having a long or frequent memory for mistakes and a short or infrequent memory for successes is a guaranteed way to develop fear of failure. High achievers dwell on what they do well.

Learn from your mistakes? Of course. The road to success is full of adversity from which we can gain significant insight. The key, however, is to set aside specific, deliberate times for evaluation. Process setbacks, errors, and your performance at times when you have planned to.

The alternative is to get caught up in second-guessing, doubt, and worry whenever things look a bit gray. You excel during the tough moments by having a positive blueprint to look at — and to have a positive blueprint, you have to spend a lot of time looking at the image of success.

Where Stress Works

The so-called detriment of stress is the psychological interpretation you place on critical situations, not the stress itself. If you want to perform at your best, change the lens through which you view stress. [Ed note: Van has an entire book in his Peak Performance Home Study Course related to stress and trading.]

Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Unlikely accomplishments are born out of single-minded purposefulness. Future superstars don't get there by keeping part of their heart in reserve.

Multitasking is merely doing a bunch of things half-heartedly all at once. Isn't the idea to perform at your utmost? If you truly want to find out what your potential is, you've got to pour everything you've got into one thing at a time and be committed to it. If you hold back, you'll never know.

And if you put all your eggs in one basket and drop the basket? Guess what: They'll make more eggs, and there are plenty of baskets to choose from.

Risks

For exceptional people, risk equals reward. The challenge of uncertainty is the fun of doing the job in the first place — and where overachievement lies.

High achievers do not look for the safest, most comfortable, or sure solution. That would not push them or their companies to grow. Growth is the key — something stockholders certainly understand. But growing requires going to new places and thinking new things — not succeeding at the new, but learning from the process regardless of outcome.

Michael Jordan, perhaps the most legendary basketball player of all time, based his entire performance philosophy on the notion: "I am a success because I have failed more times than anyone in history." 

Perhaps you can find some of Michael in you!?

John Eliot, Ph.D., is an award-winning professor with expertise in business and psychology. He is on the faculty at Rice University, and an adjunct professor at SMU Cox School of Business Leadership Center and the University of  Houston. In 2000, he co-founded The Milestone Group, which provides performance consultation, evaluation, and training to business executives, professional athletes, and corporations nationwide. Dr. Eliot's clients have included Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Adidas, NASA, the United States Olympic Committee, The Texas Medical Center, The Mayo Clinic,  M.D.  Anderson  Cancer  Center , Little League Baseball, and hundreds of elite individual performers. His article was reprinted with permission from Nightingale-Conant.

September Workshops

Proven Day Trading Strategies

September 15-16-17
Saturday-Sunday-Monday

Swing Trading Techniques  One-Day Add-On

September 18
Tuesday

Register for Both 

Register for Day Trading Only

Register for Swing Trading Only

Trading Tip 

Market Juncture

by D.R. Barton, Jr.

Special note: Since I’m on vacation, the following article was written on Monday evening. Tuesday’s trading took us back down to close right around the technically important 1460 zone. Today will prove to be a very interesting day to see if the market will close significantly below this area, or rebound again. Wishing you a great trading week from the glorious South! -- DRB

The stock market has arrived at a juncture that is more critical than many folks might realize.

What happens over the next few days of trading will set the stage for the next one to three months (and maybe more).

It's quite curious how the public has reacted with every pullback over the last couple of years: the May 2006 pullback and the February 2007 drop had market participants and pundits experiencing a great range of emotions – despite the fact that neither was big enough (not greater than 10%) to be called a true correction.

The drop we’ve experienced over the last week has brought out similar angst. Yes, the credit tightening seems more real this time. Yes, the U.S. dollar received a sound beating from most currencies. And yes, things COULD be different this time.

It’s easy to see why these drops cause such emotional reactions: in just six days the market completely unwound THREE MONTHS worth of hard fought upward price movement. The old saying that, “Markets crawl up the stairs and then jump out the window” was certainly accurate on this move! 

To find out if the market is ready for it’s first REAL correction in almost five years, let’s look at some charts to see why this is such a critical point.

Market Memory – More Than a Passing Fancy

As you take a look at the 1460 area on the S&P 500 cash index shown below, you’ll see three important points where the same price zone proved very important>

The first was the multi-year high made just before the February 27, 2007 drop.

The second shows the market breaking out from this resistance level and powering up for three months to all-time highs.

The third is the current market action, which showed this past Friday and Monday that the market certainly respects (or remembers) this area as an important support level. But there’s one more important piece to this puzzle…

The Fibonacci Retracement Proves Important… Again

In past articles, we’ve shown how traders and investors use Fibonacci retracements to calculate potential reaction areas. W.D. Gann and others have also recognized the importance of 50% retracements.

In the chart below, I’ve drawn a Fibonacci retracement from the March 2007 lows to the July highs.

It comes as no surprise that the 50% retracement from this last market move takes us exactly to our important 1460 zone.

This points out how important this area is. If we get a close or two significantly below this 1460 area ( 5 – 10 points below), then the March lows and a real honest 10% correction come into play.

If, however, this 6.4% retracement is all the downside that the market can muster for now, then look for the all-time highs to be challenged again over the next 4 to 12 weeks.

Traders and investors don’t need to panic or go value shopping just yet. Give the market some time to settle and adequately test this important support level. And then we’ll have a high probability idea of what direction the market will take next.

Great Trading!

D. R.

About D. R. Barton: A passion for the systematic approach to the markets and lifelong love of teaching and learning have propelled D.R. Barton, Jr. to the top of the investment and trading arena where he is one of the most widely read and followed traders and analysts in the world. 

He is a regularly featured guest analyst on both Report on Business TV,  and WTOP News Radio in Washington, D. C., and has been a guest analyst on Bloomberg Radio.  His articles have appeared on SmartMoney.com and Financial Advisor magazine.

 

Melita's Inspirational Corner

What It All Means

by Melita Hunt

Following on with our series of “What is self-work?” the first thing that I would like to address is that every person is at a different level of awareness when it comes to self-work. There will be some people who have worked for many years on themselves, whereas for others these short articles are their first taste of anything like this. 

Based on feedback that I received from last week's issue, some of you made assumptions that anyone who is drawn to Van Tharp and this newsletter must already have an understanding of how to work on themselves and are already doing it. My experience has shown me that the majority of our clients fit this assumption in one form or another; however; there are many who simply don’t know where to start or they think that if they just “fixed” their trading all would be well in the world and their life. Then there are others who come searching for the systems, trading techniques and position sizing algorithms and stumble onto something more. It is my intention to cater to anyone and everyone. 

Self-work is all encompassing; it is looking at every aspect of your life and seeing which things also show up in your trading (the toe bone's connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone's connected to the leg bone).

This series is not about working through an extensive self-development program, which in itself is a lifetime of work, instead it is a beginner or a refresher, or maybe just something different for those who are interested. There are hundreds and thousands of ways to grow, paths to follow, books to read, and home study programs and workshops to attend. Every person’s journey is a unique one, and I am writing this just to share some of the things that have inspired and worked for me personally, with the hope that it triggers something useful for you. 

So let’s keep going and have some fun with it.

Last week we did an exercise where I asked you to write 100 “I am” statements. Did you take the time to do it? If not, what stopped you? The number of explanations can be endless, but let’s touch on a few of them: 

I didn’t want to. It’s a stupid exercise. I couldn’t be bothered. I didn’t have time. I didn’t even read last week’s article. I’m beyond this. This has nothing to do with trading. This doesn’t interest me. I forgot. This is too beginner for me. I have more important things to do. I intended to do it but didn’t get around to it. 100 is too many (could you have done less? of course). Or was there another reason? 

Then, I would like you to stop for a moment, dig just one level deeper and ask yourself: Where else in my life do I say this exact same thing? And how does it limit me?

Personally, it makes no difference to me whether you did or did not take the time to do the exercise, because ultimately the only person that can benefit from it is you. And I certainly don’t want people beating themselves up or disregarding the exercise (to make themselves feel better) if they didn’t do it. It is just designed to get you to NOTICE your behaviors because your attitudes and behaviors show up EVERYWHERE in your life - including your trading. The following is taken from Van Tharp’s Peak Performance Home Study Course: 

Most traders play some sort of “game” with the market and in doing so they are trying to resolve some issue. More often than not, that issue has to do with self-esteem. For example, suppose you have an issue about not getting the respect you wanted from your father. Your father was always a perfectionist, and he never let you believe you were good enough to please him. As a result, you developed a lifestyle of always needing to prove yourself to your “internal image” of your father (in other words, to yourself). Your trading is simply a game to prove yourself. You believe that if you succeed in trading, then somehow you will be a better person. Because of your tremendous ability to create what you believe, what happens is that you “prove what you already believe about yourself” – that you have a low level of self-esteem. In other words, you create disaster in the market to prove yourself right. 

So what do you believe about yourself? This exercise was designed to discover just that. It is a starting point to uncover and discover some of the deeper level identity “beliefs” that you have about yourself. The words “I AM” are very powerful because you are making a statement about yourself. 

So if you completed the exercise, what did you learn about yourself? 

To those of you that took up the challenge to send your lists to me. Both Van and I will look through your “I am” statements next week, and we will give you personal one-on-one feedback. (And for those that didn’t send it, no you cannot send them now - after the fact. And once again, notice what you are thinking or feeling about that).

There are a number of next steps that you can take with your list. You can do all, any or none of the following. It’s your choice (as always, notice what you’re choosing): 

  1. Go back through the list and put a check next to those that you believe are positive and make you feel good. At the same time, put a cross next to those that you believe are negative and make you feel bad. Do nothing with the ones that you are neutral about. Count them. What is your predominant underlying core at this time? Positive, Negative or Neutral? And how does that relate back to how you are living your life? 

  2. Separate the above into various categories: Is it about me, my family, my trading, my future, my past, things outside of me? Once again, where is it positive, negative or neutral? This will help you to identify what areas need the most work (or understanding).

  3. Where are the conflicts? What statements are in direct contradiction to one another? These usually represent underlying conflicts that need to be resolved; some may even be deep issues from long ago. You may need a coach or therapist to help you to reach or deal with some of these deeper issues. Are you open or resistant to this? 

  4. Go through each belief. Where did this belief come from? Is it a learned behavior? Is it because I am resisting something else? Is it to be obedient to someone else’s expectation? Or do I even know?

  5. If you wrote anything as “I am NOT”, then look for the opposite. If you are NOT something, then what ARE you? Write down those statements and redo step one (1) above. Have things changed? 

By doing this list, you are by definition, bringing these thoughts and beliefs into consciousness, which can in turn do any number of things. It can bring you relief, chaos, understanding or unease. Every person is different. This is a learning experience. You are learning about yourself. Awareness is the key. Just by recognizing some of these things you will be able to let them go. Others may need a lot more work. 

Some of you will be eager to work through the above exercises and then do even more, while others will want to integrate or sit with what they are learning. Just work at your own pace. 

Only you know what needs to shift inside of you to ultimately bring you the love, happiness, peace and wholeness that you deserve. 

Or perhaps you already have it.

Consider these statements: 

Everything you experience is teaching you something about yourself.

Each of us innately knows that the answers lie within us; each of us knows that the source of happiness and peace lies within too.


Next week we’ll look deeper at that thing called love…


Some Ongoing Suggestions: 

Peak Performance Home Study Program: Yes I work with Van, but truthfully, it is a masterpiece. Do yourself a favor: buy it and really do it, whether you trade or not. 

Resurfacing: Techniques for Exploring Consciousness by Harry Palmer:

Happiness is Free (Series) by Hale Dwoskin and Lester Levenson 

I Could Do Anything – If Only I Knew What It Was by Barbara Sher 

Love Yourself, Heal Your Life Workbook by Louise Hay 

 You can contact Melita at mel@iitm.com

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Tharp Concepts Explained...
  • Psychology of Trading

  • System Development

  • Risk and R-Multiples

  • Position Sizing

  • Expectancy

  • Business Planning

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